When Penn State meets Navy on Saturday, the day will be about more than football.
With this weeks anniversary of 9/11, and with the Midshipmen visiting the Nittany Lions, the university will pay tribute to those who serve in our nations military at Penn State, the Naval Academy and around the globe.
We urge Penn State fans to be gracious hosts to the Navy team and to voice support for our men and women in service at every opportunity.
In Saturdays Centre Daily Times, youll read the inspiring story of Nittany Lion walk-on P.J. Byers, a Navy diver and a football player. He has been stationed at Pearl Harbor and San Diego, where he did underwater repair on submarines and searched for mines.
The western Pennsylvania native will be commissioned as an officer when he finishes his degree work at Penn State, where he is enrolled in the Navy ROTC program.
You can cheer for Byers, and for teammate Brent Smith, also a walk-on football player. Smith spent eight years with the Marines and served two tours of duty in Iraq. The central Pennsylvania native is now a 26-year-old freshman at Penn State.
Heres something else to cheer: The alumni of the Penn State Navy ROTC class of 2002 will hold a 10th reunion this weekend on campus.
This ROTC class was the first to leave Penn State after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
On its website, Penn State said of this ROTC group: Many found themselves in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan within a year of graduation. Participants will gather to share in fellowship and swap sea stories from their time as Navy and Marine Corps officers over the past 10 years.
Bob Nicely, a Penn State professor and associate dean emeritus in the College of Education, contacted this newspaper and several university leaders Thursday with a message of support for the Navy and all branches of the military.
In a message also sent to Penn State President Rodney Erickson, football coach Bill OBrien and Athletic Director David Joyner, Nicely expressed hope that the Beaver Stadium crowd on Saturday would offer a standing ovation for all representatives of the military regardless of university affiliations.
What a fantastic idea. He said all fans in attendance should welcome the cadets and their teammates by standing and cheering as the Navy team runs onto the field and as the Brigade of Midshipmen enters from its staging area.
For too long, he wrote, too many fans have booed the visiting team . ... Lets help Penn State set a positive example for all college football by taking the lead to start college football festivities with a warm welcome.
Nicely called himself a university alumnus and retiree, a Nittany Lion Club member and football fan.
We think patriot might also apply.
Penn States ties to the Navy and other branches of the military are long and strong, from research and development to ROTC and deployment.
Lets show those who serve even those on the other team Saturday how much we appreciate their dedication.